By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With 54 days until Election Day, our area’s largest political organization, the 34th District Democrats, endorsed State Sen. Pramila Jayapal tonight in her run for the 7th Congressional District.
While the endorsement vote was the night’s marquee event, along with the “mini-forum” with Jayapal and opponent State Rep. Brady Piñero Walkinshaw that preceded it, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s appearance made some headlines, so we’ll recap that first:
CITY COUNCILMEMBER LISA HERBOLD: First thing – the East Duwamish Greenspace tree-cutting investigation, which has now been under way for almost six months.
Her last major update on this was three months ago.
She says she has asked if SPD’s investigation is over and was told, she said, “we’re going to be hearing something from the Law Department [City Attorney’s Office] next week, so I’m anticipating some forward movement on the issue.” (We have been asking SPD about it periodically, and earlier this week we were told there’s nothing official to say except that the investigation was continuing.)
Herbold had quick updates on several other issues (added 12:43 am – here’s the video of her entire briefing):
She had sought a revision in the B&O tax to fund public safety, and that a new classification for businesses with “over $5 million in revenue” would be created so that most of the tax money will come from the businesses with that category of revenue. Regarding the new speed-limit proposal, she said she hadn’t heard about it until she read a news story today, and reiterated that it goes to the Council Transportation Committee next week. (Here’s our much-commented report.)
She mentioned working with Beach Drive residents regarding drag racing and said that SDOT has committed to installing “speed humps” there and will likely start that work before month’s end.
Nothing new on 35th SW, she went on to say, while saying she’s aware that the corridor Safety Project has been a “divisive” issue – “I’ve heard a lot of support and a lot of opposition” regarding Phase I and the planned Phase II of the project.
On a citywide issue, she mentioned another glitch with the new utility-billing system. The committee Herbold chairs is in charge of utilities, among other things, including economic development, which related to the next thing she mentioned, the “legacy business” issue. People were surveyed about which businesses they wanted to make sure didn’t go away, and while Scarecrow Video came in first, Herbold said West Seattle’s Husky Deli and Easy Street Records came in second and third.
Her “secure scheduling” proposal passed committee with five votes this week, enough to pass the full Council next week, she said.
Tenant protection: Herbold recapped the source-of-income legislation and how it now will protect renters from discrimination based on a variety of factors … Also, she noted that landlords whose units are not registered with the city are not allowed to raise rents (you can check here to see if your rental unit is registered).
Upzones and affordability: She mentioned the upcoming U-District upzoning and says she’s hoping that the percentage of affordable housing required will be higher than what’s currently being considered, and also hoping for a fee that will help lead to more affordable housing.
Encampment legislation: “I want to be really clear, the vote taken last Tuesday was a procedural vote, it did not indicate anybody’s support” (or lack of it) “I’m really confident there’s going to be a lot of debate around this piece of legislation.” She said that most cleared encampments are re-occupied – “what we’re doing is not working,” so the vote taken last week was “to get the discussion going.” 40 percent of the city’s parks already “are occupied by chronically homeless people … we’re not talking about opening them up, but managing what’s currently happening …”
Now, back to the congressional race:
CONGRESSIONAL ENDORSEMENT AND MINI-FORUM: The 34th had endorsed King County Council chair Joe McDermott before the primary, but he didn’t make it into the top two, so they needed to take a new endorsement vote tonight. The results: Sen. Jayapal was endorsed with 71 percent of the vote – 85 votes to 34 for Rep. Walkinshaw.
Those speaking in favor of Jayapal before the vote included West Seattle-residing City Councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold. Those speaking in favor of Walkinshaw included State House Rep. Eileen Cody, former City Council candidate Brianna Thomas, and West Seattle Helpline director Chris Langeler.
Before the vote, the two candidates sat down for a “mini-forum,” moderated by 34th DDs chair Marcee Stone-Vekich. (Added 1:53 am – video of the mini-forum in its entirety:)
First question – “In your first year, what is the boldest bill you will propose and how will you build a coalition around it?”
Jayapal: Affordable college. She said she already has relationships with Congressmembers and “we need to make sure we are driving people toward education, not away. … This investment that we are making will come back time and time again. It’s … an economic boon … I can’t wait to provide a pathway to opportunity for our young people and our older parents … I know because I have a kid in college.”
Walkinshaw: A federal carbon tax/price. “Climate change is the most important generational issue that we face … we are at a point in time when we cannot wait another day before bold and decisive action on climate change.” He said he thinks about that day and night, especially on behalf “of the kids that my husband and I hope to someday have.”
Where does our congressional district most need federal help and what are your plans to address it?
Walkinshaw: “We need to build common ground. First – I would want to serve you as a community on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.” He said Congress is doing a “miserable job” on related policies. He also mentioned housing as an issue of concern, and homelessness.
Jayapal: “I also believe that the federal government has dis-invested in everything that is important to us – I think it is a paramount duty for the next congressperson to bring back federal dollars, and federal dollars that leverage state dollars. in all these areas.” She mentioned health care and “tak(ing) on oil companies,” too.
Neither of you was a Hillary Clinton supporter from the get-go, so how would you work with her?
Jayapal: “As an immigrant woman of color, I do not have the luxury of Donald Trump as president … Hillary Clinton has said she will work (quickly) on immigrant reform, and I can’t wait to work with her on that. … I am a big fan of single-payer health care and I think we should have that. … I want to take on the big banks, I believe Hillary Clinton will go there … and reforming our tax system so that corporations will pay what they should pay.”
Walkinshaw: “For me first and foremost it came down to strong statements about the environment, early on …” He mentioned Arctic drilling and fracking. “Here’s the issue: I think we’re both progressives in this race, and the question is, who will effectively build the bridges to deliver for our home and take the values we have here and bring them to Washington D.C.” He too is for single-payer health care, he said, for example.
Is there any hope for reducing gun violence in our country?
Walkinshaw – “Yes.” He finished that by acknowledging former opponent King County Council Chair Joe McDermott for focusing on that issue. He then said he expects that after Secretary Clinton is elected, “we are on the verge of the most progressive Supreme Court in history. … I have a lot of hope in Supreme Court cases that will reinterpret the Second Amendment.”
Jayapal – “I’m really excited about a roundtable this week that I pulled together,” including former West Seattleite Cheryl Stumbo, who survived the Jewish Federation shooting and advocates for gun-law reform. “We came up with some great ideas – we need to start investing in public-health research … very specific ways we can do that,” through data, and “start to .. make the case for how we take on these gun manufactureres through the Affordable Care Act.”
Closing question: Why should we vote for you?
Jayapal: She said that those present likely know her for a variety of things, including OneAmerica, $15 minimum wage, payday lending, expanding contraceptive access – “You know what I can do.” She promised to “stand up for the values that are dear to us as Americans … building a movement … making sure everybody is excited about voting.”
Walkinshaw: “I’m running for Congress because I love the Northwest … my mother’s family immigrated from Cuba in the 1960s. …” He said he’s running because of “the innovation, the progressiveness, the forward-lookingness” of our area … “and because of my passion for our home.”
STATE LANDS COMMISSIONER: The other race in which the 34th DDs took an endorsement vote, State Lands Commissioner, had a rep speaking on behalf of “the only Democrat who made it” to the general election, Hillary Franz. The rep characterized Franz’s opponent as a “far-right Republican, Donald Trump supporter.”
PRESIDENTIAL ENDORSEMENT: Though it wasn’t on the agenda, an endorsement in the presidential race was proposed too. Hillary Clinton was endorsed by credential-raising, though not before someone suggested Bernie Sanders. (Chair Stone-Vekich said that would be out of order since he’s no longer running.)
SCHOOL-CONSTRUCTION RESOLUTION: The group endorsed, 33 to 22, a resolution asking the city to raise money for school construction via developer impact fees.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Chair Marcee Stone-Vekich announced a volunteer event coming up this Saturday in West Seattle to help introduce people to doorbelling. Info will be on the 34th DDs’ website soon. … Campaigns that provided updates included judicial candidate Eric Newman (who said that he was stopping by though it was his wedding anniversary) and reps from the campaigns of Sen. Patty Murray, Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu and judicial candidate Anthony Gipe,
The 34th District Democrats meet second Wednesdays, 7 pm, at The Hall at Fauntleroy, and publish frequent updates at 34dems.org.